Written by Quinn Mas-Aboudara, Community Catalyst for Klawock Cooperative Association

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Joshua Zimbrich finishing off installing the new LED lighting

Through the assistance and great patience of Shaina Kilcoyne of the Sustainable Southeast Partnership (SSP), the Klawock Cooperative Association, in partnership with the Klawock Heenya Corporation was able to submit our pledge for the RACEE (Remote Alaskan Communities Energy Efficiency) competition. RACEE is facilitated through the Department of Energy and the program is intended to “empower remote Alaskan communities to develop and implement solutions that can effectively advance the use of reliable, affordable, clean-energy and energy efficient solutions that are applicable throughout rural Alaska and potentially in other Arctic regions” (from energy.gov).

Before we even received confirmation that our pledge had been accepted and that we were eligible to continue to Phase 2 of the RACEE competition, the Klawock Cooperative Association took action and promptly began to implement Energy Efficient lighting throughout the Klawock Cooperative Association’s buildings.

As of last month, 90% of the lighting throughout the Klawock Cooperative Association’s Administrative offices had been converted from conventional fluorescent lighting to energy efficient LED lighting. In addition, the inefficient ballasts used in 80% of our lighting fixtures have been removed by the wonderful electricians from Prince of Wales Electric and Repair (PoWER) which will also improve our overall energy efficiency.

On February 15th, the submitted pledge for the RACEE competition was accepted. This qualifies the community of Klawock for Phase 2 of the RACEE Competition which will provide technical assistance as we push to decrease energy usage and develop projects that increase energy efficiency as a community. We will compete with 64 other Alaskan communities for between three and five Implementation Grants of up to $1 million. This potential grant funding would help Klawock to further implement energy saving measures and programs during Phase 3.

In 2008, the state of Alaska announced its goal of becoming 15% more energy efficient by 2020. In alignment with the state, Klawock as a community wants to become 15% more efficient in the next four years. So let’s all do our part and work together to meet this simple and attainable goal!

Here are some easy low-cost and no-cost ways to save energy in your homes and businesses:

  • Install a programmable thermostat to lower utility bills and manage your heating and cooling systems efficiently.
  • Use sunlight wisely, during the heating season, leave shades and blinds open on sunny days, but close them at night to reduce the amount of heat lost through windows. Close shades and blinds during the summer or when the air conditioner is in use or will be in use later in the day.
  • Air dry dishes instead of using your dishwasher’s drying cycle.
  • Turn things off when you are not in the room such as lights, TVs, entertainment systems, and your computer and monitor.
  • Plug home electronics, such as TVs and DVD players, into power strips; turn the power strips off when the equipment is not in use — TVs and DVDs in standby mode still use several watts of power.
  • Lower the thermostat on your water heater to 120°F.
  • Take short showers instead of baths and use low-flow shower heads for additional energy savings.
  • Wash only full loads of dishes and clothes.
  • Air dry clothes.
  • Check to see that windows and doors are closed when heating or cooling your home.
  • Drive sensibly; aggressive driving such as speeding, and rapid acceleration and braking, wastes fuel.
  • Look for the ENERGY STAR® label on light bulbs, home appliances, electronics, and other products. ENERGY STAR products meet strict efficiency guidelines set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy.
  • Turn It Off,don’t forget to flick the switch when you leave a room. Remember this at the office, too. Turn out or dim the lights in unused conference rooms, and when you step out for lunch. Work by daylight when possible. A typical commercial building uses more energy for lighting than anything else.
  • LED Bulbs,a new LED (light-emitting diode) light bulb costs as little as $5. Thanks to its efficiency and long life, it will save more than $100 over its lifetime. LEDs are the way to go as they work great and use up to 85 percent less energy to deliver the same amount to light. Today’s LED light bulbs come in virtually any shape, light level or flavor you can imagine. They reach full brightness instantly, dim, and direct the light exactly where you want it. And check to see whether your local utility offers a rebate, sometimes as high as $5 per bulb, to bring the cost of the bulb down to just a few bucks.

Also something worth mentioning for many business owners and homeowners that utilize tube lighting:

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Sam Peters explaining energy savings of installing LED lighting (while basking in the glow of a said LED light)

Before purchasing LED tube lighting make sure that you know whether the fixture has a ballast or not.  Most LED tube lighting products do NOT state that they will not function properly if the fixture has a ballast.  So before making the LED switch it is highly recommended that you check with a licensed professional to ensure your fixtures are ballast free. As discussed with Sam Peters of Prince of Wales Electric and Repair, you will actually be able to decrease your power usage by removing the ballasts from older functions, which translates to even greater savings for the home or business owner. Mr. Peters recommends the Hyperikon T8 LED Light Tubes, stating that they provide clean, crisp light, and have an exceptionally long lifetime.

Together as a community, we can take great strides forward in energy efficiency and energy independence. The RACEE competition is an exciting way to build momentum for energy efficiency however, every action we take to become more efficient will benefit our community regardless of whether we receive future grant funding or  not. Happy Energy Saving Klawock!